Fine week welcome

A week of good sunshine and temperatures is very welcome to help get the harvest largely wrapped up in good conditions. It will be good to get crops cut and straw cleared in the last week in August.

Yields remain good despite significant septoria in winter wheat in places and some lodging in spring barley. While sprouting is a risk, is has not been a major issue so far, especially across the south. But there is some evidence of sprouting in wheat further north.

There are a number of crops lodged, especially spring barley, generally as a result of fierce showers in recent weeks. However, these have been relatively straightforward to cut when conditions are right. Ironically, lodged crops have less head loss, which has been an issue in standing crops.

Harvest progress is both variable and regional with some areas now well over 80% complete while other areas appear to be just past 60%. But nationally we are likely to be somewhere between 70% and 75% complete and rising daily.

Planting oilseed rape

Planting should be completed by the end of the month, if possible, so get straw cleared to get seed in the ground. If you can get one stale seedbed done in advance of planting that would always be an advantage but do not compromise on time of sowing.

Seeding rates remain around 30-35 seeds/m2 for hybrid varieties and 70-80 seeds/m2 for conventional varieties. There should be no need to push up these seeding rates with later planting unless there will be a poor establishment issue. But there is a need to ensure that you get reasonable establishment.

Seedbed fertiliser, and especially organic manures, can be a big help to drive backend growth providing sowing date is still timely. But fertiliser cannot fully make up for late planting. Where organics are not possible, consider something like a bag or two per acre of 10:10:20 or 18:6:12 – P and K can be equally beneficial where soil indices are low to moderate.

Pre and post emergence

Plant emergence should take place quickly as moist soil is heated by recent sunshine. So it is essential to get pre-emerge herbicide on and watch for flea beetle damage.

This will appear as little ‘shot-holes’ on the cotyledon and it can kill the plant if it gets too bad. Our relatively low crop density of oilseed rape must help to minimise this problem compared to our nearest neighbours. The fact that our temperatures are somewhat lower is probably a help too.

The greater worry here is the laying of eggs at the base of the plants, leaving the resultant larvae to cause severe damage in the stems over winter and into spring.

Insecticide should be considered to halt the build-up if you see more than a few holes on about 20% of plants. Early crops are most at risk.

Insecticide options include Karate Zeon, Karis, Lambda, Markate 50, Ninja, and Sparviero.

Get residual herbicides like Katamaran Turbo on post-sowing if possible.